I should have known that I would eat my words…
We left Samoa this morning under a bright blue sun filled sky. The wind was fresh enough to move us along nicely and so we decided to go between Upolu and Savai’i (the two main Islands of Samoa) on our way to Tonga. As we rounded Upolu and started South I said to Vick “Shoot, I think we may have missed out by not going inland a bit.” It’s true, I’m sure. I can only justify so much with the tired “we had so much work to get done” line. In retrospect though we did end up loving Samoa in spite of some of it’s odd officials. We had one of the absolute best meals we have ever eaten (Vick compared it favorably to the Slanted Door, our old favorite) at Tatua Bistro in Apia. Our friends Mark and Jenny on Condessa took care of the kids for the night so we could have a downright sinfully slow meal. Great food, perfect service and personal attention from the owner (when he found out I was GF and wanted to make sure everything was prepared safely for me) made it a night to remember.
Another perfect memory that we will take with us is our experience with John Neieuwehuizen at JN Woodworkers. I got in touch with John on the first day in Apia and commissioned him to make us a new tiller. The piece he delivered was just beautiful, almost too nice to put in such a functional role. He and I spent a lot of time talking about the directional loads and how best to overcome some of the weaknesses of the old tiller and I am confident that he nailed the design.
Our time at the dock also gave us the freedom to do some long overdue projects. Vick knocked out a new sun-cover for the cockpit (which is gorgeous as well) and a tiller cover to protect the new stick. She also managed a screen for the forward hatch (the Samoan mosquitoes were not nice).
One of the big reasons we went to Samoa was that it was off the beaten path. As it turns out, we met a lot of other folks that were into the road less traveled there and our whole family made great friends as a result. The kids had several sleepovers with Cosmo and Zinnia on Pacific Bliss, and we finally got to meet and become friends with Shawn and Chris on Tao.
At the veggie market we had a great time chatting with the vendors about their (to us) mystery foods, and they all got a raucous laugh at my expense when I ate some tobacco (misunderstanding what they wanted me to do with it). And even though it was sometimes difficult to understand, everybody spoke English.
In the end it was like I said to Vick over that A+ meal, “We came here on a lark, and didn’t do much in the way of cultural prep. If this had been our 2 week vacation, we would have researched and found our groove much more quickly.” I think as cruisers it’s easy to get carried away in the flood of good times, sunny skys, and turquoise waters. It’s easy to forget that every place has its charm, its strengths, and its own drawbacks. It probably didn’t help that we had just come from one of my most favorite places on Earth. Thankfully the spirit of Samoa was strong enough to break through my initial attitude so that I could see its beauty.